Newly-appointed governor of the Afghan province of Balkh Mohammad Daud (C), attends the funeral of his father in Mazar-i-Sharif on January 17, 2018. FARSHAD USYAN / AFP / AFP / FARSHAD USYAN
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U.S. Vice President Mike Pence called for a peaceful change of leadership in the northern Afghan province of Balkh, where the powerful governor has defied attempts by the central government to oust him for the past month amid sensitive ethnic rivalries.The standoff between President Ashraf Ghani and Balkh Governor Atta Mohammad Noor has threatened to destabilize the fragile Western-backed administration in Kabul and raised fears the government could try to use force to break the stalemate.Noor is one of the most prominent of a number of powerful regional leaders who have been a thorn in the side of Ghani, a former World Bank official named president after a disputed election in 2014 .
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